Site of the Pamo Valley Extension of the Coast to Crest Trail. Courtesy San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy

By Trish Boaz

Big ideas are born when people share their dreams and pull together to make things happen!

A perfect example of this is the creation of an amazing river park in the center of the county, called the San Dieguito River Park.

A small group of friends gathered around a dinner table in Del Mar to express their concerns about the alarming loss of wildlife habitat, sensitive plants and open space near their homes, due to the residential and commercial development boom of the 1980s.

Talk led to action, and in 1986 this passionate crew formed the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy. Along with their predecessors, the San Dieguito Lagoon Committee and the Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley, they gained the attention of their local elected officials and other leaders who realized that the need for housing, public facilities and infrastructure for a growing population needed to be balanced with conservation of our natural and cultural resources.

Trish Boaz

And so, the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority was created to develop and implement the vision of the 55-milelong San Dieguito River Park and the Coast to Crest Trail that stretches from the Del Mar shoreline to the Julian mountains.

During the last 29 years, a lot of sweat equity has gone into planning and constructing the 35 miles of the Coast to Crest Trail that are now open to the public, along with an additional 20 miles of interconnecting trails.

The trail provides San Diegans access to our beautiful parks and open spaces including the San Dieguito Lagoon, a state marine-conservation area, and a popular spot for birds along the Pacific Flyway.

The trek from Santa Fe Valley, through Del Dios Gorge to Lake Hodges, over the David Kreitzer Pedestrian Bicycle Bridge  — the longest stress-ribbon bridge in the world — past historic Sikes Adobe, and through San Pasqual Valley are 23 continuous miles of pure heaven right in our own backyard.

Trails at Volcan Mountain lead to the summit, rewarding hikers with amazing views of the Anza Borrego State Park, Cuyamaca State Park, Cleveland National Forest and the San Dieguito and San Diego River watersheds, including downtown San Diego and the Pacific Ocean.

Along with our partners, we are making huge strides in completing key linkages of the Coast to Crest Trail at Lusardi Creek, Pamo Valley and Santa Ysabel.

We are fortunate to have a trail that traverses urban, rural and remote areas of the county, providing us with an array of scenic vistas, sights of beautiful plants and wildlife, smells of nature and great exercise.

The momentum to complete the Coast to Crest Trail continues to build and support for the trail grows as people become more aware of its existence and experience it for themselves. You really do feel a sense of place — and peace — when you are on the trail. But don’t take our word for it — come see for yourself!


Important facts about the Coast to Crest Trail:

  • The trail was one of ten in the entire nation to be selected by REI to be part of the retailer’s first “Every Trail Connects” initiative, raising over $43,000. This funding will be used for a 12-mile segment at Pamo Valley near Ramona.
  • Different segments of the trail were named in the list of Top 50 Trails in San Diego by San Diego Magazine in April.
  • Spanning Lake Hodges on the Coast to Crest Trail is the David Kreitzer Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge, the world’s longest stress-­ribbon bridge (and winner of the 2010 Engineering Excellence Award).
  • East of Lake Hodges, in the San Pasqual Valley, is the Sikes Adobe historic farmstead, including an 1879 adobe, among the oldest structures in San Diego County and a California State point of historical interest.
  • The eastern terminus of the trail is Volcan Mountain, created by volcanic upthurst along the infamous San Andreas Fault. People enjoy breath­taking views of the San Dieguito watershed on one side and the Anza ­Borrego Desert on the other.

Trish Boaz is executive director of the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy.

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